Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy Hogmanay!

For nearly 400 years, Christmas in Scotlandwas not celebrated. The reason for this stems from the Protestant Reformation. The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, felt that Christmas was, by and large, a Catholic celebration and as such was frowned upon. To all intents and purposes, Christmas was a regular day. People went to work and carried on about their business in everyday fashion. This began in 1560 and really carried on through to the mid 1950s. Even then, it was a half day holiday. Gifts were small, often just one gift or a stocking with gifts rather than the multitude of gifts we see today.

New Years Day was a public holiday and New Years Eve was, and still is, a major celebration. The history behind both the celebration of and the name Hogmanay is up for debate. However, many feel that the celebration is carried on from Norse traditions which celebrated the arrival of the Winter Solstice. Indeed, many Hogmanay celebrations throughout Scotland actually involve fire festivals. Stonehaven near Aberdeen, the Torchlight procession in Edinburgh are two examples of this.

Hogmanay is steeped in tradition and ritual. Many Scots will take the time during the day on December 31 to clean the house and pay off all debts prior to the “ringing of the bells” at midnight. This ritual was known as redding (getting ready for the New Year). The reason for this was to clear out the remnants of the old year and welcome in a young, New Year with a clean slate.

A few branches of the Rowan tree would be put above the door to bring luck. Inside was mistletoe to prevent illness to those who lived within. Pieces of holly placed around the house were thought to keep out mischievous fairies. And finally, pieces of hazel were gathered and placed around the home to protect the house and all who lived in it. Then all the doors of the home would be opened to bring in fresh air. Once this final piece of the ritual was completed, the house was then considered to be ready for the New Year.
Immediately after midnight, it is traditional to sing "For Auld Lang Syne", in a circle of friends whose linked arms are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year's Day.

Perhaps the most important and revered Hogmanay custom is the practice of 'first-footing' which dates back to the Viking days. This involves the first person to cross the threshold once the New Year bells have been rung. Superstition states that the “first footer” should be a tall male with dark hair. The darker the man's complexion the better, since no one wanted a Viking (raider) turning up on their doorstep - that could only mean trouble! A dark complected man represented luck for the rest of the year. In addition, the first-footer needs to enter the home carrying salt, coal, a coin, shortbread, and whisky. These gifts represent goodness and abundance for the New Year. The Coal for
heat/warmth, the coin for financial prosperity, salt for flavour, shortbread for food and whiskey for good cheer. These gifts are then to be shared with the other guests so that the wishes for a good and prosperous year can then be spread around.

The traditions live on even today. The gifts are still presented by the first footers, although not necessarily to the extent that they once were. But most of all, the new year is rung in with a good old-fashioned Scots welcome and hospitality. And each and every one is wished “A guid New Year to ane an` a` and mony may ye see!”

Wednesday 28 December 2016

2016 My Genealogy Year in Review

It seems like 2016 was non-stop travel. I had amazing opportunities to speak to lots of the Scots diaspora. And where Scots descendants gather, there is always great craic. Let's take a look back:

January was fairly quiet as I geared up for RootsTech. A couple of webinars on offer and lots of excitement and planning for my week in Salt Lake City

February WOW! I used to sit back and read about all the hype around RootsTech, think it might be nice to go, look at the cost and think otherwise. But 2016 was to be my year. I registered, booked flights and hotel and decided this was going to be a one-off. Just so I could say I, too had experienced RootsTech. By Day 2, I couldn't wait for RootsTech 2017! What a whirlwind of activity. Talks to take in, people to interview, after hours events to attend. And lots and lots of fun meeting up with the genealogists I only know online. I was still hosting a webinar series and even managed to host one from my hotel room in Salt Lake! RootsTech was an incredible experience and I am already hyped for February 2017.

March was webinars, webinars and more webinars.

April saw more travel. First to Winnipeg to give a full day of talks. Then onto Kelowna to give a full day of talks to the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society. Two amazing days with lots of learning and lots of helping others move forward in their research. But perhaps best of all there was loads of laughter. 

May was my spring genealogy tour to Scotland. I went for a week ahead of the group and finally had the chance to visit Orkney. I drove up through Sutherland and was acutely aware of the devastation of the Highland Clearances, even two centuries later. I saw the memorial cairn to Sir John A Macdonald's grandparents, visited the very historic town of Dornoch and made my way to the ferry over to mainland Orkney. Orkney was absolutely amazing. The history - prehistoric history - at every turn. The beauty of the island, the smell of the sea and the amazing wildlife. Orkney will always have a special place in my heart. 

June - as if Orkney wasn't incredible enough, I had the immense pleasure of observing 15 tour participants on their genealogical journeys. Records found, stories uncovered, blanks filled in. Then there were the participants that experienced their ancestors first hand by being invited to tour old homesteads, walking the routes their ancestors walked, seeing the books their ancestors read and worshiping in the same church their ancestors were married or baptized in. Such a humbling experience for them and for me. 

July was the start of the highland games season.  I attended the Kincardine Scottish Festival and the Cambridge Highland Games in July. 

August was the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games and it was also the opportunity to speak at the One World, One Family event.

September saw another genealogy tour to Scotland and the opportunity to share in the genealogy adventures of another 14 tour participants. What an incredible time they had! We enjoyed loads of learning opportunities and indulged in our Scottish heritage at a Ceilidh. 

And prior to going to Scotland, I attended the BIFHSGO conference in Ottawa. 

October was another busy genealogy month with a full day of talks in Halifax for the Nova Scotia Genealogical Society. Halifax is an amazing city with history at every turn. What an honour to be able to immerse myself in that for a few days. 

And of course, our masterpiece was hosting the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit. This was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the talents of Canadian genealogy speakers. The attendees were wonderfully receptive and made some really terrific connections. 

November was my month to focus on my own family history. Rather than a lot of research, I spent the time creating family history treasures - digital scrapbooks, wall art and photo journals. 

December - can the year be over already? When I look back, I feel a sense of accomplishment. In addition to all of the things listed here, I managed dozens of articles, blog posts, webinars, creating presentations, handouts and editing newsletters. And I am even more motivated to take on everything that 2017 has to offer me in the world of genealogy. 

Top 10 Posts for 2016

A look back at the top 10 posts for 2016, in reverse order are:

10 Family History Month - Mort Cloths
Innovator Summit Semi-Finalists Announced Join Me in Halifax
Scottish Records Release on FindMyPast 6  Canadian Descendants of the Ship HectorPassengers Wanted
5 Family History Month - Lair Records 
Do You Have Orcadian Ancestors
Family History Month - Scottish Marriages Free Access to FMP for Holiday Weekend
Welcome to Family History Month 

Sunday 25 December 2016

Accentuate the Positive - A Look Back at 2016

Blogger Jill Ballhas posted her Accentuate the Positive meme. This is a great way for us to look back on the genealogy successes we have had this past year. Here's mine - slightly adapted:

A precious family photo I found was - it wasn't a photo I found. It  was a way to share photos with family members. I spent 5 weeks deeply immersed in creating beautiful, shareable gifts showcasing the old family photos.

My 2016 blog post that I was particularly proud of was the daily posts in October to highlight Family History Month.

 I made a new genimate who is such an inspiration.

A new piece of software I mastered was Artisan 5 a scrapbooking program that allowed me to create amazing ways to share our family photos.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Facebook. I love my page and the interaction between and among the Scots disapora that follow the page.

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was The GreatCanadian Genealogy Summit. I was one of the co-organizers and boy was THAT a learning experience. It was such a joy to see our dreams come to fruition.

 I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to I did full day workshops across Canada and these were a real treat. Although tired by the end of the day, sharing with others and helping them to move forward with their research was such an uplifting experience.

 A journal/magazine article I had published was - well, it hasn't actually been published yet, but stay tuned as it is due to be released in the spring!

I taught a friend how to find information on his Scottish grandparents and their parents and their parents....

 A genealogy book that taught me something new was - it wasn't a book - it was a group of colleagues! I am part of one of Marian Pierre-Louis'Mastermind groups. What an incredible learning journey that has been.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was I had the chance to visit the Stromness Museum in Orkney. I made mention of the Hudson's Bay Company and the curator led me to her shelves FULL of genealogical records - not only about the Hudson's Bay Company but about all sorts of little gems relating to those with Orcadian Ancestry.

It was exciting to finally meet all of the genies I have known for years via social media - either Facebook or Google+ at RootsTech

 A geneadventure I enjoyed was once again being honoured to share the personal journeys of Scots who join me in their ancestral homeland to do research. The places they have seen, the records they have discovered and the stories they have learned are heart-warming.

Another positive I would like to share is ... how terrific the genealogy community is. 

Saturday 24 December 2016

Scottish Records Release on FindMyPast

FindMyPast has released some indexes for Scottish records which might be helpful to those researching Scottish ancestors

The first is Scotland Mental Health Institutions Admissions 1857-1859
and includes and index of admission records for over 50 Scottish mental health institutions including asylums and poorhouses between 1857 and 1859. These indices you will get:
  • Name
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Birth place
  • Occupation
  • Former residence
  • Place found
  • Year
  • Institution
  • Institution county
  • Patient identification number
  • Archive
  • Archive reference
The second is Scotland Prison Registers Index 1828-1884Was your Scottish ancestor a criminal? The indices will give you: 
  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Birth county
  • Birth country
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Crime
  • Prison
  • Prison county
  • Prison country
  • Archive
  • Archive reference
These are the same indices that are available through

The index returns on Scottish Indexes

Monday 19 December 2016

Short Delay in New BMD Releases on ScotlandsPeople

With all of the glitches and headaches that the launch of the new website has created, ScotlandsPeople has decided to delay the addition of the new statutory records for 2017. These are usually available on January 1st each year, but are being delayed until the 5th of January 2017 so that staff will be on hand to respond to any issues that might arise. 

On January 5th, you can look forward to accessing:

  • Births for 1916
  • Marriages for 1941
  • Deaths for 1966



Friday 16 December 2016

Innovator Summit Semi-Finalists Announced!

I, along with my Google+ friend, Jill Ball, had the pleasure of being part of a several person team of judges to whittle down the list of submissions for the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2017. Of 42 submissions, we were given 21 to review for inclusion in the top 10. Being curious, I each checked out all 42 just to be sure we weren't missing out on something fantastic. 

The judging criteria was:

Family History
Submissions must be directly or indirectly related to family history.

Quality of Idea
Includes creativity and originality.

Implementation of Idea
Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer.

Potential Impact

Will users get excited about this, is it applicable, does it solve a genuine problem?

For me, it was also a case of not being a re-hash of programs that were already available. I wanted to see things that were new, fresh, original. I considered the impact on the lives of genealogists, whether those genealogists were professionals or hobbyists. Would the submission make some aspect of researching family history easier? Would it fill a need and solve a problem. Would it simplify processes? 

After some discussion as a team, here is the list of Semi-finalists: 

Champollion 2.0: 

Holy Cannoli I loved this one! This one promises to be a new friend for family history researchers trying to read old documents that are less than legible. Not the script itself, but seeing through stains, smears, overexposed or underexposed light. Can't wait to see how this one does in the finals. 

OldNews USA:

Others were more excited than I was abou this one, mostly because I don't have a great need for using USA newspapers. But the fact that you can access newspapers on your mobile device through this app is pretty amazing. I think this one has great potential.


This one is cool. It uses modern technology to share the story behind the photos. Like the old writing on the back of old photos, you can tell future generations what the story was behind the photo. Another one with great potential. 

CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexing:

This one has a great place in genealogy as well. It promises to fill great gaps for genealogy societies that are working together on transcription projects. It essentially takes on the place of project manager, making the entire process of crowd sourced indexing less stressful. 

Double Match Triangulator:
Love this one! A way to make sense of all of the data we get when we get our DNA results back. And it sorts everything onto a spreadsheet to help us clearly see where the matches with other are. Another definite winner. 

This one has been about for a bit but is worth a deeper look. Emberall is an app that allows cloud based photo and story sharing. Emberall has some competition in the field but does have potential.

Another great innovation. You can scan, store, share photos and add stories. It allows people to record the story behind the photo and converts that into text which is fully searchable. The app also allows photo editing and minor photo restoration. The app is fully connected to FamilySearch and pulls in newspapers, documents and a whole lot more. 

This one is similar to the others that allow cloud based storage and sharing, but it also allows other family members to jump in and transcribe things like family letters, to tell stories about some of the photos. Kindex has combined cloud-based storage and sharing with crowd sourced indexing! It's a win-win. 

This one works on the same premise as Ancestry's "We're Related" app but people don't need to a subscription to Ancestry in order to make full use of Cuzins. 

Love that this one is designed specifically to engage our youth. Their cloud-based family tree site has the look, feel and ease of use of Facebook, is fully integrated with FamilySearch and allows kids to share their ancestor's stories on Social media. 

I can't wait to see what the future has in store with all of the bright minds that have come together to make submissions to the Innovator Showdown. And I am looking forward to meeting and speaking with the 10 semi-finalists. Meet the semi-finalists on the RootsTech website:

Monday 12 December 2016

Looking for an Online Course on Scottish Genealogy?

The Scottish Genealogy Research Strategies course from FamilyTree University begins today! It is self directed, so missing a day or two won't put you behind. The course is interactive and runs for 4 weeks. 

Hope to see you online!

To register:

Sunday 4 December 2016

Gift From Forces War Records

Your pre-Christmas gift from Forces War Records - Original 1914 Princess Mary’s box with gift cards inside.

The Princess Mary Christmas gift box was given to all members of the armed forces on Christmas day 1914. These small boxes, made from silver for Officers and brass for all others, typically contained an ounce of tobacco, a packet of cigarettes, a lighter, a Christmas card and photograph from Princess Mary, some also contained sweets. Amazingly, it took until 1920 to deliver all 2.5 million!
So here’s our pre-Christmas gift to you – an original tin containing a selection of gift cards from Forces War Records:
1.            12 months free membership
2.            Discount when you hire a professional researcher
3.            Free Family Historian Software

Become a full member between 4th Dec and 11.59pm 11th December, 2016 and this could be yours. (winner selected at random) Why not give the gift cards as Christmas presents.

Tuesday 29 November 2016


Using Poor Relief Records for Scottish Genealogy

Poor relief in Scotland required a process of application and given that specific criteria needed to be met, not everyone who applied actually received poor relief. However, the applications are an absolute treasure trove of genealogical information and can give a fantastic "peek" into the lives of your ancestors.

Please register for Using Poor Relief Records for Scottish Genealogy on Dec 05, 2016 7:00 PM EST
To register:

Registering does not guarantee a space, so make sure you log on early on the 5th. 

See you online!

Monday 21 November 2016


There is just ONE space left for the Genealogy Tours of Scotland research tour Sept 18-27, 2017!

This tour allows you to research at:

  • ScotlandsPeople Centre (three full days of research)
  • National Library of Scotland
  • National Library Maps building

The tour allows time for you to visit the area of Scotland where your ancestors lived and provides a day to research locally. 

This tour will connect you to your ancestral homeland in a way you never dreamed possible.

Don't miss out! Book before someone else takes the last spot:

Sunday 13 November 2016


This unique, one time only tour has sold out! Tour participants will get the opportunity to walk through some of the history that led to Highland Scots to leave their homeland and head to shores across the seas. The tour includes research time in the local archives, a visit to Culloden, Skye and the Sutherland Clearances. 

While the Highland and Glasgow tours have sold out, there is still space for the Edinburgh tour for Sept 2017:

Friday 11 November 2016

I Remember the Brave Men

A song that my kids learned in elementary school resurfaces in my mind at this time every year:

I remember the brave men who fought for our country
I remember the brave men who died far away
I remember the brave men who truly loved Canada
And because I remember, I stand and I pray

Today I remember the brave men in the Woodcock Family who fought for our country, who died far away and who truly loved Canada. The Woodcock's served their adopted country of Canada for generations. 

First was Bertram Woodcock. Bertram's parents were the brave couple that left the destitution and over crowding of Birmingham for a new life in Canada. Bertram served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He signed up on December 10th, 1915 and died two years later on 21 January, 1917 in Calais. Bertram is buried in the Hersin Communal Cemetery

Bertram's headstone in Calais

but is also memorialized on his mother's headstone here in Brantford. Bertram is listed on the wall of honour at the cenotaph in Brantford

Bertram is listed on the wall of honour

Bertram's brothers Edgar and George also served. They were fortunate enough to survive the war. 

George Henry

George Henry's son, my father-in-law, Harry was a gunner in WWII. Harry served with the 54th Battery of the 56th Field Artillery Regiment. Harry was a gunner and flew in the Lancaster and saw active duty in England and Europe. Harry was part of the liberation of Holland and was honoured to return to Holland for the 50th anniversary celebrations. 

young Harry

Harry in Holland for the 50th anniversary celebration

Today I had the honour of attending the Remembrance Day Services at the Cenotaph. I could feel the spirits of the lost soldiers blowing in the wind that rustled the leaves as we stood for TAPS and as the memorial wreaths were laid. After the ceremony, my son and I pinned our poppies to the wreath that was laid to honour the brave men who fought alongside Dad. 

Rest peacefully Harry. And thank you. Thank you for serving your country and for helping us to live in a free world. 

Tuesday 8 November 2016


There is just ONE last space left for the Highland Genealogy Research and History Tour. If you have Highland ancestors, consider joining this once-in-a-lifetime tour. It will NOT be repeated again. 

Your tour fees include: 
  • ·       Commemorative Service at Culloden Battlefield to mark the 271st anniversary of the battle. Tour of the Battlefield, Visitor Centre and then visit to Clava Cairns (Pre-historic chambered cairns)
  • ·         Easter Sunday Service in historic Dornoch Cathedral followed by a bus tour of the Highland Clearances in Sutherland. Easter Dinner together as a group
  • ·         Travel by coach to Armadale Castle in Skye for a guided tour and research opportunities. Return via Eilean Donan Castle
  • ·         Two full days of research at the Highland Archives Centre in Inverness. After finishing research on Wednesday, we will travel down the Great Glen to Fort William
  • ·         Full day of research at the Lochaber Archives in Fort William
  • ·         Travel to Glenfinnan Monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard, then on to Glasgow, stopping at Loch Lomond
  • ·         Travel to Fife for the annual conference of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies
  • ·         Check out or optional day with Glasgow Tour Group to enjoy guided tour of the Glasgow Necropolis

This unique tour will give you a definite sense of the reasons why Scots Highlanders left their homeland to travel to a new country. You will gain a better understanding of the Jacobite cause as well as the later Highland Clearances.

Monday 31 October 2016

Family History Month - Using Magazines for Genealogy Research

Most of us who are researching our ancestors are aware of the value of using newspapers for our research and how they assist us in understanding the social history of our ancestors. But few of us are aware of the value of using magazines for genealogy research.

The National Library of Scotland is a national deposit library. As such, they receive copies of everything published in Scotland. That includes magazines. These magazines might be from your ancestor's place of employment, their social club or organization, their trade guild, their church, their regiment or their athletic club. 

Magazines like these often include:

  • obituaries
  • promotions
  • recognition for achievements
  • club celebrations
  • board of directors
  • election results 

and perhaps best of all: PHOTOGRAPHS! 

The thousands of magazines available at the NLS are only available in-house but they are well worth looking through. You just never know what you might discover about your Scottish ancestor.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Family History Month - LAC Resources for Scottish Immigrant Ancestors

For those who have ancestors that left Scotland and emigrated to, or passed through, Canada, there are some resources available through Library and Archives Canada. These resources include: 

  • Glasgow Juvenile Delinquency Board - Girls Industrial School, Glasgow, RG 76, volume 119, file 22468, microfilm C-4782. File includes a list of children sent to Saint John, New Brunswick, between 1895 and 1906.
  • Fifteen Parish trainees from Glasgow allocated to Toronto, 1927, Glasgow Training Scheme. RG 76, volume 323, file 310968, microfilm C-10236.
  • Alexander McOwen, Virden, Manitoba - Special immigration agent to Scotland, 1904-1906, RG 76, volume 337, file 350610, microfilm C-10247. File includes list of names.
  • Mackay Brothers, booking agent lists, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1915-1922. RG 76, volume 362, file 453045, microfilm C-10264.
  • Mackay Brothers & Company, booking agent lists, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1910-1921. RG76, volume 564, file 809010, microfilm C-10644.
  • Group of 27 labourers sent from from Leith, Scotland, 1906. RG 76, volume 367, file 484243, microfilm C-10268.
  • Party from Stornoway sent out by the Queen Alexandra's Unemployed Fund, 1906. RG 76, volume 377, file 522409, microfilm C-10275.
  • J. Bruce Walker, Commissioner of Immigration, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Letters from successful "Scotch" ploughmen, 1908-1911. RG 76, volume 548, file 805711, microfilm C-10633.
  • H.W.J. Paton, Aberdeen, Scotland, booking agent, farm hands and domestics, lists, 1908-1921. RG 76, volume 538, file 803839, microfilm C-10627.
  • Alexander Wyllie, Glasgow, Scotland. Bonus claims, lists, 1907-1909. RG 76, volume 415, file 601089, microfilm C-10302.
  • D. Cumming, Glasgow, Scotland. Bonus claims, lists, 1907-1915, 1918. RG 76, volume 426, file 629453, microfilm C-10309.
  • D. McFarlane, Glasgow, Scotland. Booking agent, lists, 1907-1923. RG 76, volume 435, file 652806, microfilm C-10315.

Unfortunately these records are all on microfilm and must be ordered via LAC. Fees are $.40 per photocopied page. They can email the pages to you or send them via regular post. 

To order:

Saturday 29 October 2016

Family History Month - Recalling Memories

In a recent conversation, the question was asked: 

What were the sleeping arrangements like when you were growing up?

My father was one of eight siblings. They lived in a two bedroom miner's row house. Four girls were in one room, four boys in the other. Beds were shared.

My mother was one of 20. And while they were not all home at the same time, her and her siblings talk of sleeping "head to toe" One person slept north/south on the bed and their bed-mate slept south/north. Some slept across the bed as that gave more room. They often slept three or four to a bed. 

In both instances, there would often be times when kids who were not siblings joined in on and bunked down wherever they landed. 

My granny used to love coming to Canada for her holidays. Three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months. She always started out at my aunt's house up the street, but within a few days, was at my mother's doorstep, bags in hand. I honestly can't recall where I ended up sleeping while Gran was visiting, I just know that when she was staying with us, my room became hers. It was never stated, it was understood. 

I recall, too, spending a week at our neighbour's cottage. There were three families sharing a three bedroom cottage. My mum, my aunt's family and my uncle's family. The adults all had bedrooms. The rest of us (about 10 kids) slept on floors, sofas and cots in the living-room or kitchen. Sleep was fairly elusive as my mum and her brother spent the night calling out to one another and sharing stories, memories and jokes. But the memories are of laughter, love and spending the night wherever we could find a flat surface. 

What were the sleeping arrangements like when YOU were growing up? 

Friday 28 October 2016

Family History Month - Evoking Memories

There is a Chinese proverb that states, "A family with an old person in it has a nugget of gold". That is especially true for anyone researching their family history. As any beginning genealogist knows, our older relatives have a wealth of family history to share. It is vital to tap into this resource and knowing how to get the information is the key to unlocking this treasure trove of your family's history.

One of the best ways to evoke a memory is through photographs. The visual sparks a recollection of the event, the people, the joy, the laughter, the surrounding details. If you can spend time with an older relative going through old photographs you will unleash a torrent of memories. The opportunity will allow you to identify those in the photo, the reason the photo was taken and sometimes tidbits of information about some of the characters in the photo. One of the lovely things about the elderly is that their filters relax as they age. Things that were once taboo to speak of with others may now get shared quite freely ("she was always such a tart, you know")

As you are spending time with family over the holidays, at reunions, family celebrations, take advantage of the opportunity to sit and speak with the elderly relatives. If photographs aren't available ask questions that will evoke memories for them. If you are at a wedding or christening, ask about weddings or christenings of long ago. 

Thursday 27 October 2016

Just TWO Spaces Left for Highland Research and History Tour!

There are just 2 spaces left for the Highlands Research and History Tour in April 2017. This is a unique opportunity to get to know the history that your Highland ancestors were confronted with and to gain a deeper understanding of what led them to leave their homeland.

This tour allows for four full days of research (Inverness, Fort William and Skye) as well as touring the area in Sutherland where the most brutal of the Clearances took place, the Culloden Battlefield (and taking in the memorial service) and visiting Glenfinnan Monument where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his Standard. The tour ends in Glasgow where we will attend the annual conference of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies. Many of the Family History Societies will be in the marketplace, giving you easy access to their expertise and their resources. 

Ahead of the tour, you will get pre-tour preparation including webinars and regular emails to keep you on track for your time in Scotland.

If you have Highland ancestors, consider joining us for this unique opportunity to research in the area where your ancestors lived. But don't wait too long or you might miss out.

Family History Month - KPL Genealogy Fair

On Saturday, November 5th, I will be speaking at the Kitchener Public Library's Genealogy Fair. This is one of my favourite Genealogy events. A full day of speakers, a marketplace and it's all available for FREE!

This year's Keynote speaker is Jen Baldwin of FindMyPast. Jen will be speaking about engaging the Next Generation in genealogy and helping to spark the interest in people of all ages who share a passion for genealogy research. 

Check out the rest of the program:

Hope to see you in Kitchener!

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Family History Month - RootsTech

Once again I have been chosen to be an ambassador for RootsTech. However, at RootsTech 2017, I will also be a speaker and an exhibitor.

RootsTech is an incredible experience and can be a bit overwhelming. But it is definitely worth attending. The air is electric. The exhibit hall is huge and the talks are endless. But the best part about RootsTech are the connections that you make. With other researchers, with vendors, with speakers. Those last long after the week is over. 

Plan to attend in RootsTech in 2017. Plan to spend extra time in Salt Lake City so you can do research in the Family History Library. Wander through Temple Square. Drink in every aspect of the week in SLC. 

One of the Keynote speakers will be LeVar Burton! That alone is worth the trip!

The Featured speakers for Family Discovery Day are Kalani Sitake, Hank Smith and Vai Sikahema. Family Discovery Day is a FREE day for families to come and learn about the importance of researching family history and documenting the stories of our ancestors. 

Check out the rest of the program!

Hope to see you in SLC!

*disclosure: As a RootsTech Ambassador, I receive free admission to the conference in exchange for sharing my experience on social media. 

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Family History Month - Telling the Stories

Having just come back from the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit, I was once again reminded of how important it is to tell the stories of our ancestors. Jennifer DeBruin gave a moving and inspirational opening plenary where she shared the stories she has written about her ancestors and how she has become more intimately connected to them and their plight as a result. Then, Lynn Palermo gave us the "how-to" of putting the stories together. 

Both ladies were clear that we need to choose one ancestor and start with their story. It becomes too easy to become overwhelmed and the best way to start is to narrow yourself down to one person. One who has really spoken to you. No doubt you know their story inside and out and would be only too happy to share it at any genealogy or family gathering. 

Don't fret over writing. This story is a personal journey and one that you are likely only to be sharing with family and other descendants of the person you are writing about. If you can come into a genealogy meeting and tell me the story, you can write it! It's that simple. Take pen to paper and write as if you were telling me the story. 

Glasgow Tour SOLD OUT Once Again!

The last minute opening didn't last long! The space is once again filled. 

However, there are still spaces available in both the Highland Research and History Tour

and the Edinburgh Tour

Would love to have you join me in your ancestral homeland!

Space Has Opened Up for the Glasgow Research Tour!


  • ·        8 nights at the Glasgow Marriott and 8 full breakfasts
  • ·        The Scottish Association of Family History Societies Conference in Fife (registration, transportation to and from Fife and lunch)
  • ·        Guided tour of the Glasgow Necropolis
  • ·        Three days of research at the Mitchell Library which houses the Glasgow Archives. They also have access to the same database that is available at the ScotlandsPeople Centre minus the Kirk Session records
  • ·        One day of research at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society
  • ·        One day of research at the University of Glasgow Archives, which house all of the business archives for Scotland. They also house the NHS records for the Glasgow/Lanarkshire area and the records of the Friendly Assurance Society, an early insurance company.